Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins calls for Bradford district to be split up (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins calls for Bradford district to be split up
7:10am Saturday 14th April 2012 in Bradford
Richer outlying areas of the district are masking the serious poverty in Bradford, an MP claims.
Mr Hopkins, former leader of Bradford Council, said removing areas such as Keighley and Ilkley from the ‘Bradford’ district would unmask deprivation. He said it would mean that Bradford would get the help it deserved because the measurements of poverty across the area would no longer be skewed by the richer outlying areas.
Speaking at Oxenhope Parish Council’s annual parish meeting, Mr Hopkins said it would also benefit his constituents who would be better served by having their own local government independent of Bradford’s.
He said: “It’s not about turning my back on Bradford. It’s about getting a decent return for the people that live in this area.”
He previously asked Parliament to set a timeline for a referendum to gain residents’ views on what could be the biggest change in local government in the district for 40 years.
But other MPs are split over disbanding the district, although it was agreed the wealthier parts often skewed deprivation factors.
Shipley Tory MP Philip Davies agreed with Mr Hopkins, saying most of his constituents do not feel affiliated to Bradford.
“People feel decisions are taken in Bradford and it is remote to them,” he said. “For example, the Menston decision to allow hundreds of homes to be built was made in Bradford against local will.
“It would be better to have a Shipley and Keighley local authority to ensure a greater affinity to the area.”
Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: “I understand what Kris is saying about poverty being masked but I do not want the district to be split.
“There is a lot happening with parliamentary boundary changes and there is so much uncertainty, with plans for elected police commissioners and mayors – people need stability. If there was to be any local government reorganisation the people of Bradford district have to be consulted.”
Bradford East Liberal Democrat MP David Ward said it was “sad” the former Council leader wanted to take the wealthy parts of the district away.
He said: “This will not help the inner- city areas of Bradford. If you look at why we have so many problems in Bradford, it was the indifference the Tories had when they were on the Council as the Bradford core area was not where their voters were.
“There was a lack of drive in the city centre regeneration as it was not seen as their problem.”
Newly-elected Bradford West Respect party MP George Galloway said: “I think this is in fact just a cynical attempt, dressed up as concern about poverty, to appeal to the self-interest of more affluent areas to remove themselves from the district, thus shrinking the tax base and therefore the income of the district to address these and many other problems. The fact is there is also much poverty in places like Keighley and other outlying areas that has not been properly addressed by this or previous governments and councils and many other pressing problems.”